Winners of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2013

First Place Winner: Brazil Aquathlon

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I was in Manaus, Amazonas, during the Brazilian Aquathlon (swimming and running) championship. I photographed it from the water and my lens got completely wet, but there was so much energy in these boys that I just didn’t worry about that. —Wagner Araujo

National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year’s judges, shares his thoughts on the first place winner:

“This photo really captures my attention because of the peak action it depicts. I love the horizontal tension caused by the main subject on his way out of the picture to the right. Classic photographic rules of composition say that you should not have subjects moving out of the frame, but this shot shows that sometimes the most exciting photo can be made by breaking the rules. I also love the body language of the main subject; he’s trying to lean forward but still holding back to get his last breath before plunging into the water. Finally, the addition of the tall buildings along the waterfront makes this more than just a sports picture; it’s also a portrait of Manaus, Brazil.”

Second Place Winner: Thunderstorm at False Kiva

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I hiked out to these ruins at night hoping to photograph them with the Milky Way, but instead a thunderstorm rolled through, creating this dramatic image. —Max Seigal

National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year’s judges, shares his thoughts on the second place winner:

“This photo combines two different scenes into one: the small kiva in a cliff dwelling and the grand vista of Canyonlands National Park across the valley. I really like the two different color palettes—warm inside and purple outside. This two-for-one scene was caused by the lightning storm outside the dwelling, which lit up the landscape like it was a huge electronic flash. Looking at this picture I can imagine what a wonderful sight it must have been for the ancient people who lived here. It doesn’t seem too amazing now in our modern world, but might have been mind-blowing for the prehistoric residents.”

Third Place Winner: Say Cheese

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Cheetahs jumped on the vehicle of tourists in Masai Mara national park, Kenya. —Yanai Bonneh

National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography Dan Westergren, one of this year’s judges, shares his thoughts on the third place winner:

“I’ve seen a few different pictures of cheetahs on tourist vehicles. Apparently they like to use the cars as a higher vantage point to look around. But, this picture of the cheetah skirting the open roof of this Land Cruiser brings a new vision of danger to the safari experience. It’s a fun photo to look at because of all the secondary activity. The photographer in the front seat is turned around with camera to eye, but then there’s the woman in the middle row, trying to capture a selfie with the cheetah in the background. Danger and subtle humor combined in one picture. What could be better?”

Merit Winner: Lady in Water

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Photo by Marcelo Salvador

A lady collects water in the river by a village in Bagan, Myanmar, 2013

Merit Winner: Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl

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Photo by Graham McGeorge

Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey.

Merit Winner: Children of Reindeer

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Photo by Michelle Schantz

Mikael Ánde, a child of Sámi reindeer herders, takes a break indoors after a long, cold day of rounding up the animals for vaccinations and slaughter. Children of reindeer herders learn to handle these animals and the land they thrive in from infancy – young Mikael here knew far more about the ways of nature than I could ever hope to learn.

Merit Winner: Sakura

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Photo by Hideyuki Katagiri

Cherry blossom is called Sakura in Japanese.Cherry blossom is Japanese symbolic flower.There are various kinds in a cherry tree and an especially old cherry tree has many kinds called Edo-Higan. The trees of the cherry tree exceeding hundreds of years are located in a line with a nebula this temple, and if spring comes every year,can looks at a powerful spectacle can do it. This photograph focused on Edo-Higan and photographed Beni-Sidare which is back together.

Merit Winner: The Tata Honda Sect

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Photo by Gergely Lantai-Csont

The photographer could get inside of an enclosed sect named Tatahonda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ladies are preparing for their religious ceremony.

Merit Winner: Piano Play at Sunset

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Photo by Nikola Smernic

Streets of Queenstown, New Zealand at the end of one more day filled with adrenaline. Calming and doleful scene with piano sound in the background.

Merit Winner: Guanjiang Shou

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Photo by Chan Kwok Hung

Guanjiang Shou troupes are one of Taiwan most popular activities that may be seen all over Taiwan at traditional folk religion gatherings. With their fiercely painted faces, protruding fangs and powerful, choreographed performances, they are easily recognized, They may be described as underworld police or gods’ bodyguards.

Viewers’ Choice Winner: Another Perspective of the Day

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Photo by DODY KUSUMA

The fisherman at Bira Beach

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